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Amtrak Route Needs Repairs After Flash Flooding

Tuesday, 08 April 2014 09:39 Published in Local News
Some passengers on Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner will travel via highway instead of rail this week as work continues to restore a section of railroad track east of Warrensburg, Mo.
Recent flash flooding caused some damage to the track. Union Pacific has planned additional maintenance and repair on the rail line that will require afternoon closures on Tuesday, April 8 (today) through April 11.
 
Twice a day the Missouri River Runner serves Kansas City, St. Louis and eight points in between including Kirkwood, Washington, Hermann, and Jefferson City.
 
All morning train service (#311 and #314) for the Missouri River Runner is expected to run on regular schedules. Passengers on the afternoon trains (#313 and #316) will be re-routed to buses to get to their destinations.
 
Passengers with tickets for the afternoon trains should report to the train stations at their scheduled times.
Amtrak will resume full rail service for the Missouri River Runner once repairs are complete.
Travelers are encouraged to check Amtrak.com or call 1-800-USA-RAIL to get up-to-date information on departure and arrival times.
 

PERTH, Australia (AP) — Search crews in the Indian Ocean failed to pick up more of the faint underwater sounds that may have been from the missing Malaysian jetliner's black boxes whose batteries are at the end of their life.

The signals first heard late Saturday and early Sunday had sparked hopes of a breakthrough in the search for Flight 370, but Angus Houston, the retired Australian air chief marshal leading the search far off western Australia, said listening equipment on the Ocean Shield ship has picked up no trace of the sounds since then.

Finding the sound again is crucial to narrowing the search area so a submarine can be deployed to chart a potential debris field on the seafloor. If the autonomous sub was used now with the sparse data collected so far, covering all the potential places from which the pings might have come would take many days.

"It's literally crawling at the bottom of the ocean so it's going to take a long, long time," Houston said.

The locator beacons on the black boxes have a battery life of only about a month — and Tuesday marked exactly one month since the plane vanished. Once the beacons blink off, locating the black boxes in such deep water would be an immensely difficult, if not impossible, task.

"There have been no further contacts with any transmission and we need to continue (searching) for several days right up to the point at which there's absolutely no doubt that the batteries will have expired," Houston said.

If, by that point, the U.S. Navy towed pinger locator has failed to pick up more signals, the sub will be deployed. If it maps out a debris field on the ocean floor, the sonar system on board will be replaced with a camera unit to photograph any wreckage.

Earlier, Australia's acting prime minister, Warren Truss, had said the Bluefin 21 autonomous sub would be launched on Tuesday, but a spokesman for Truss said later the conflicting information was a misunderstanding, and Truss acknowledged the sub was not being used immediately.

Houston earlier said the two sounds heard Saturday and Sunday are consistent with the pings from an aircraft's black boxes.

Defense Minister David Johnston called the sounds the most positive lead and said it was being pursued vigorously. Still, officials warned it could take days to determine whether the sounds were connected to the plane that vanished March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing with 239 on board.

"This is an herculean task — it's over a very, very wide area, the water is extremely deep," Johnston said. "We have at least several days of intense action ahead of us."

Houston also warned of past false leads — such as ships detecting their own signals. Because of that, other ships are being kept away, so as not to add unwanted noise.

"We're very hopeful we will find further evidence that will confirm the aircraft is in that location," Houston said. "There's still a little bit of doubt there, but I'm a lot more optimistic than I was one week ago."

Such optimism was overshadowed by anguish at a hotel in Beijing where around 300 relatives of the flight's passengers — most of whom were Chinese — wait for information about the plane's fate.

One family lit candles on a heart-shaped cake to mark what would have been the 21st birthday of passenger Feng Dong, who had been working in construction in Singapore for the past year and was flying home to China via Kuala Lumpur. Feng's mother wept as she blew out the candles.

A family member of another passenger said staying together allowed the relatives to support one another through the ordeal. "If we go back to our homes now it will be extremely painful," said Steve Wang. "We have to face a bigger pain of facing uncertainty, the unknown future. This is the most difficult to cope with."

Investigators have not found any explanation yet for why the plane lost communications and veered far off its Beijing-bound course, so the black boxes containing the flight data and cockpit voice recorders are key to learning what went wrong.

"Everyone's anxious about the life of the batteries on the black box flight recorders," said Truss, who is acting prime minister while Tony Abbott is overseas. "Sometimes they go on for many, many weeks longer than they're mandated to operate for — we hope that'll be the case in this instance. But clearly there is an aura of urgency about the investigation."

The first sound picked up by the equipment on board the Ocean Shield lasted two hours and 20 minutes before it was lost, Houston said. The ship then turned around and picked up a signal again — this time recording two distinct "pinger returns" that lasted 13 minutes. That would be consistent with transmissions from both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.

The black boxes normally emit a frequency of 37.5 kilohertz, and the signals picked up by the Ocean Shield were both 33.3 kilohertz, U.S. Navy Capt. Mark Matthews said.

Houston said the frequency heard was considered "quite credible" by the manufacturer, and noted that the frequency from the Air France jet that crashed several years ago was 34 kilohertz. The age of the batteries and the water pressure in the deep ocean can affect the transmission level, he said.

The Ocean Shield is dragging a pinger locator at a depth of 3 kilometers (1.9 miles). It is designed to detect signals at a range of 1.8 kilometers (1.12 miles), meaning it would need to be almost on top of the recorders to detect them if they were on the ocean floor, which is about 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) deep.

The surface search for any plane debris also continued Tuesday. Up to 14 planes and as many ships were focusing on a single search area covering 77, 580 square kilometers (29,954 square miles) of ocean, said the Joint Agency Coordination Center, which is overseeing the operation.

___

Associated Press writers Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, and video journalists Isolda Morillo and Peng Peng in Beijing contributed to this report.

LONDON (AP) -- Three years ago, doctors reported that zapping a paralyzed man's spinal cord with electricity allowed him to stand and move his legs. Now they've done the same with three other patients, suggesting their original success was no fluke.

Experts say it's a promising development but warn that the experimental treatment isn't a cure. When the implanted device is activated, the men can wiggle their toes, lift their legs and stand briefly. But they aren't able to walk and still use wheelchairs to get around.

"There is no miracle cure on the way," said Peter Ellaway, an emeritus professor of physiology at Imperial College London, who had no role in the study. "But this could certainly give paralyzed people more independence and it could still be a life-changer for them."

In a new study published Tuesday in the British journal Brain, researchers gave an update on Rob Summers, of Portland, Oregon, the first to try the treatment, and described successful results for all three of the other men who have tried it. All had been paralyzed from below the neck or chest for at least two years from a spinal cord injury.

The study's lead author, Claudia Angeli of the Kentucky Spinal Cord Research Center at the University of Louisville, said she believes the device's zapping of the spinal cord helps it to receive simple commands from the brain, through circuitry that some doctors had assumed was beyond repair after severe paralysis.

Dustin Shillcox, 29, of Green River, Wyoming, was seriously injured in a car crash in 2010. Last year, he had the electrical device surgically implanted in his lower back in Kentucky. Five days later, he wiggled his toes and moved one of his feet for the first time.

"It was very exciting and emotional," said Shillcox. "It brought me a lot of hope."

Shillcox now practices moving his legs for about an hour a day at home in addition to therapy sessions in the lab, sometimes wearing a Superman T-shirt for inspiration. He said it has given him more confidence and he feels more comfortable going out.

"The future is very exciting for people with spinal cord injuries," he said.

The study's other two participants - Kent Stephenson of Mount Pleasant, Texas and Andrew Meas of Louisville, Kentucky - have had similar results.

"I'm able to (make) these voluntary movements and it really changed my life," Stephenson said. He said the electrical device lets him ride on an off-road utility vehicle all day with his friends and get out of the wheelchair.

"I've seen some benefits of (the device) training even when it's turned off," he added. "There have been huge improvements in bowel, bladder and sexual function."

The new study was paid for by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and others.

Experts said refining the use of electrical stimulators for people with paralysis might eventually prove more effective than standard approaches, including medicines and physical therapy.

"In the next five to 10 years, we may have one of the first therapies that can improve the quality of life for people with a spinal cord injury," said Gregoire Courtine, a paralysis expert at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, who was not part of the study.

Ellaway said it was unrealistic to think that paralyzed people would be able to walk after such treatment but it was feasible they might eventually be able to stand unaided or take a few steps.

"The next step will be to see how long this improvement persists or if they will need this implant for the rest of their lives," he said.

The National Institutes of Health is investing in more advanced stimulators that would better target the spinal cord as well as devices that might work on people who are paralyzed in their upper limbs.

----

Online:

Journal: WWW.BRAIN.OXFORDJOURNALS.ORG

Foundation: WWW.CHRISTOPHERREEVE.ORG

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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